Religion, schools and being a father

My son goes to a Catholic school. He is seven years-old and about three yearsbible ago, his school was the best option for the area we lived in. Catholic schools have a certain reputation, and most parents, Catholic and non-Catholic accept that they provide a superior academic environment. My ex partner is Catholic and I only agreed to our son going to this school as long as it did not affect me in any way. That is, I didn’t want to have anything to do with the ‘religious’ part of the school, but would happily benefit from the perceived or real superior ‘schooling’ side.

My negative beliefs around religion are long established. I grew up in the Church of England, which  in our house meant no religion. I vaguely remember going to Sunday school when I was a toddler but I think that was more because it gave my parents a few hours alone on a Sunday, than for anything it taught me about the Sabbath.

My major issues with the Catholic faith stem from three areas:

  1. The way in which members of the church community seemingly look down on other religions or non-religious people,
  2. The blatant amount of religious books in this country quite often using a white image of Christ,
  3. And the fact that I don’t like organised religion in general, or the convenient subjugation of women in particular.

churchSo three years in my son has to start attending communion classes and church on a regular basis. My ex gave me the news a few weeks ago and my first response was , Hell No! I am not getting involved, I told you this back in the day etc etc etc. Not surprisingly this has led to a number of arguments.

Her perspective: ” He enjoys it” and therefore I should support it.

My protest: “I don’t enjoy it, and if I act like I do, then I am being a hypocrite! I am not teaching my son that!”

Lines were drawn in the sand, sides taken and the proverbial horns were locked. I was adamant not to give in, she was adamant to be adamant. The person who it affected was kind of stuck in a vacuum, unsure of what was going to happen next. One thing we all knew for sure though was that he would be going to church, it was one of the schools rules, and one day when I started arguing this point gain for the umpteenth time, this simple fact dawned on me.

I had already agreed to this years earlier when I agreed to him attending the school in the first place. If I had a major problem with the church why would I agree to him attending that school? My fight wasn’t big enough – she knew it and he knew it. Instead of showing him another way, I was shortsightedly teaching him how to act spoilt when you don’t get your own way. Someone had to get used to my son attending a church school and it wasn’t either of them!

The next dilemma was how to show him what I believe in whilst respecting the choices his mother and I have made for him. A simple chat with him resolved that issue. He asked me why I didn’t go to church and I told him why I, as an individual, didn’t go to church. Before I had made it a global issue, ‘we must all be against the church’, now it was a more personal thing.

There must always be a struggle between a father and son when one aims at power and the other at independence.

~ Ibid

I gave him the space to come to his own conclusions and opinions and to understand my position. He goes to church, enjoys it and has a mum who also enjoys it and a dad who chooses not to go. No one is making anyone else wrong for their choice. Above all I am not having stupid arguments about a redundant point.

I asked myself, what kind of a person I want to help raise  – someone who listens and does what others tell him, or someone that listens to other opinions and then makes the best decision for himself? My answer wasn’t too hard to reach – the latter prepares my child to cope with the world and the former would create a monster who is never happy with the world unless it is going his way.

As a parent I must constantly find a way to engage and interact with my children. As I get older I become more fixed in my ways and sometimes I don’t even notice that I am doing this. I am happy to hold on to some beliefs I from my own childhood and to pass these onto my son. I also have to be open to learning valuable lessons from my son, such as the lesson on comprise this week.

I can’t wait to see what next week’s lesson will be.


One Response to “Religion, schools and being a father”

  1. Patrick A Says:

    If there’s anythin i tried my best 2 stay away 4rm,its Religion, I am a Christian &2 me its jus a way of life. No one is perfect, and as rgds school ie education, the only thing I owe me & my kids is my ability 2 give them standard education 2 d highest level & as a father, i must represent true love, and be an example 4 them

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